Parcells careful to pass on Foley criticism Backup-turned-starter hits low after 49ers high

September 14, 1998|By Alan Hahn | Alan Hahn,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With a quarterback as volatile as the recent Dow Jones, New York Jets coach Bill Parcells opted not to fan the flames of self-destruction. Well aware that career-backup-turned-starter Glenn Foley is a work in progress, Parcells acknowledged there is a lot of work yet to be done.

"He'll find out about being an NFL quarterback," Parcells said. "When you get your [butt] knocked around a little bit, throw a couple of tough ones and things aren't going as good as they did, that's when you find out if you can play in this league or not."

Foley, a fifth-year veteran from Boston College, followed up a career passing day against San Francisco last week by throwing three interceptions -- one returned for a touchdown -- in yesterday's 24-10 home-opening loss to the Ravens at the Meadowlands.

He was 22 of 32 for 247 yards and a touchdown, but it was the ones he threw to the wrong team -- including two to Ravens cornerback Rod Woodson -- that stood out the most.

"You've got to give him credit, he made two great plays," Foley said of Woodson, whose second pickoff resulted in a 60-yard return for a touchdown with 8: 44 left in the game to complete the scoring. It was a curious interception because the intended receiver, Jerald Sowell, was in double coverage as Woodson dropped off Wayne Chrebet.

Three plays prior to that, New York had recovered a fumble by Roosevelt Potts at the Ravens' 47.

"It's a shame," Foley said. "It's a shame."

Foley's next -- and last -- interception of the game came with 5: 01 left, as the Jets were charging toward the end zone. On first-and-10 at the Ravens' 14, he threw toward Keyshawn Johnson, but was picked off by DeRon Jenkins in the middle of the end zone.

The first interception by Woodson, which thwarted a first-and-10 opportunity for the Jets on the Ravens' 40 early in the second half, resulted in a field goal that gave Baltimore a 17-7 lead. It was the seventh time in Woodson's 12-year career he has recorded at least two interceptions.

"He baits you," Foley said. "He lures you. He guesses. It's all part of his game. It's based on experience. He's a heady player."

Parcells, careful not to criticize his reeling quarterback, credited Woodson for making the plays, rather than blame Foley.

"I'd say they were good plays by Woodson," Parcells said. "That's all I'm going to say about it."

To add injury to the insults, Foley was sacked four times by the Ravens' front line.

"[Foley] took a couple of shots and that's the fault of the offensive line," Jets center Kevin Mawae said. "He'll bounce back."

Last week, it might have been easier for Foley to bounce back from the 36-30 overtime loss to the 49ers, as he threw for 415 yards and three touchdowns (with one interception) in his first start since being named the team's No. 1 quarterback. In seven career starts for New York, Foley has yet to win a game he has finished.

After just two weeks, the Jets and Foley face serious questions about their seasons.

"This is going to be the biggest week of the season," Foley said of next Sunday's game at Indianapolis. "The pressure is on us now."

Pub Date: 9/14/98

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